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first_imgA pair of gold earrings from the collection of Maharani Jind Kaur, the last Sikh queen of Punjab, will be auctioned as part of the Islamic and Indian sale in London later this month, PTI reported.The pair of earrings is estimated to fetch between £20,000 (Rs 19 lakh) and £30,000 (Rs 28 lakh) when it goes up for sale at the Bonham auction house in London on April 24.Jind Kaur, the youngest wife of Ranjit Singh and the only one who did not commit sati on his funeral pyre in 1839, was the de facto ruler of Punjab. “She was remarkable in how she discarded sati and purdah, dominant at the time, and led the courts, had meetings with chief ministers and the armies. All of them were taking her counsel,” Professor Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh of Colby College, Maine, United States, told the Guardian.she was appointed Regent after her five-year-old son Duleep Singh was given the throne of Lahore, as the kingdom extended from Khyber Pass to Kashmir,  in 1843. As a result of armed opposition led by Jind Kaur — dubbed the Anglo-Sikh War — the East India Company invaded and annexed Punjab. The British, who saw Kaur as a threat who could lead another uprising among the Punjabi people, launched a smear campaign to discredit her, calling her the “Messalina of the Punjab” — a seductress too rebellious to be controlled, according to reports. To prevent her from influencing her son, she was separated from Duleep Singh and imprisoned at Chunar Fort in Uttar Pradesh in 1846.Her personal wealth was confiscated and state treasury was plundered, according to the Bonhams’ historians. The famous Kohinoor diamond and Timur ruby were sent to London as gifts for Queen Victoria. The then nine-year-old Duleep was also sent to the United Kingdom and lived as a godson of Queen Victoria.Kaur escaped from captivity disguised as a servant, and fled to Kathmandu, where she wrote a letter boasting that she escaped by “magic.” She was was given asylum by the king of Nepal, but the British Resident stationed there kept an eye on her, believing her to have enough power to revive the Sikh dynasty. She lived in Nepal for 11 years.It was only after she arrived in the United Kingdom that her jewelry, including the earrings that are going up on sale, were given back to her. Her joy was so great that “she forthwith decorated herself, and her attendants, with an assortment of the most wonderful necklaces and earrings, strings of lovely pearls and emeralds,” before Lady Login visited her, according to the book, Lady Login’s Recollections by Lady Lena Campbell Login.“These gold earrings are beautiful pieces of jewelry in their own right. They are also an important reminder of a courageous woman who endured the loss of her kingdom, and persecution and privation, with great dignity and fortitude,” Oliver White, Bonhams head of Islamic and Indian art, said in a statement.Duleep Singh, who converted to Christianity, met his mother 13 years later in 1861 in Calcutta, after the British Resident reported that she was “blind and lost much of the energy that characterized her.” She then moved to the United Kingdom with her son, who converted back to Sikhism after meeting her. She died in 1863 at the age of 46 in her sleep at Abingdon House in Kensington.Jind Kaur’s story was detailed in the film, The Rebel Queen, which premiered in 2010 at the New York International Sikh Film Festival.After her death, Duleep Singh’s attempts to return to the kingdom were thwarted by the British government. At the age of 55, Duleep died in Paris. His daughter, princess Sophia Duleep Singh, went on to become a prominent suffragette who fought for women’s right to vote in the United Kingdom. She was featured on a Royal Mail UK stamp on Feb. 6, 2018. Related ItemsDuldeep SinghMaharani Jind KaurPunjablast_img read more

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first_imgThe United States Justice Department is temporarily halting a program that offered legal assistance to detained foreign nationals facing deportation, pending an audit to check its cost-effectiveness, the Washington Post reported. The legal program will be stopped from April 30, the publication reported, citing a federal official.The Legal Orientation Program is offered by the Justice Department in association with Vera Institute of Justice and the National Immigrant Justice Center.The Vera Institute of Justice is a non-profit organization providing the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) to immigrants who are detained, and has a help  desk that provides information to those who are not detained but face deportation. The institute advised 53,000 immigrants in more than a dozen states in the United States in 2017 alone.The Executive Office for Immigration Review said that the government wants to “conduct efficiency reviews which have not taken place in six years.” The review will examine the cost-effectiveness of the federally funded programs and whether they duplicate efforts within the court system, the Washington Post quoted an immigration official as saying. Immigration judges already inform immigrants their rights before a hearing, according to the official.The Vera Institute of Justice said in a statement that the program was created in 2003 under President George W. Bush and “is a lifeline for many immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and green-card holders — some who are fighting for their lives — who would otherwise not know the rights they have or the odds they face.”The Department of Justice concluded in a 2012 study that the program created a net savings of nearly $18 million for the government, which meant that every $1 the government spent on LOP saved $4. This is why LOP has had strong support in Congress, which maintained its full funding in FY 2018.The decision to halt the program has received backlash from the National Immigrant Justice Center.“This is a blatant attempt by the administration to strip detained immigrants of even the pretense of due-process rights,” Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center, said, according to the report.More than 20,000 Indians are estimated to be living in the United States illegally, many of whom have been enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or are eligible for it. While immigration officers used to have discretion over whose cases to expedite, they are currently said to be processing removal orders for all illegal immigrants even if they have no criminal record.For instance, an Indian deli owner in New York was reportedly taken into custody and faces deportation despite being married to a U.S. national. Bhavesh ‘Bobby’ Bhatt had no criminal records and had gone for an annual meeting with an immigration official when he was held, according to reports. Related ItemsDeportationIndian AmericanUnited Stateslast_img read more

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first_imgBhamini Jain, a pre-school teacher living in Tokyo, feels that her varied experiences in different parts of the world defines who she is.After having completed her graduation in California, United States and spending a semester in France, the 22-year-old is now living in Japan. She speaks to Little India about her complex identity as part of the Indian diaspora.Being an “Other”The Soka University Campus in California, where I did my graduation in social and behavioral sciences, was a diverse space. My campus was a bubble in a distant land–it made my moving to a different country easier. However, being in the United States, in general, or France or even Japan, you tend to feel the otherness attached to your identity.Japan is obviously a very homogeneous country–it is hard to become a citizen here and easier to get a permanent residence. You know you will never really fit in –at least when it comes to how one looks, no matter how comfortable you get with the place. You always stand out. For example, I would think twice about wearing red lipstick or the bright red coat a friend of mine gifted me. People in Japan don’t seem to do that and I don’t want to stand out more than I already do.Since United States is a more diverse space, you would expect to see more diversity in the media. Except, you will see white people everywhere on the media– not even Asian Americans or Black Americans. It is not truly representative of the people that live there and it gets exhausting to see another white lead.Other than that, it is fascinating and amusing to see the yoga culture in the United States. Growing up, it was something we did to enrich our lives and in the United States, it is approached like an exclusive workout. With things like beer yoga, it is interesting to see how elitist it has become, complete with a special yoga clothing line.Although there is some amusement to be derived from this. Once, I overheard a person saying: “Namaste” and someone else responded to that with: “Oh yeah, that’s yoga language right?”On Complex IdentityI was at the bar I always visit in Tokyo and I was approached by two men who asked me where I am from. When I said “India”, they immediately said: “Oh Namaste!”My immediate reaction to that was to step out of a possible conversation. This is because it is a little difficult to explain that “Oh Namaste” denotes the fact that the only thing they saw was my being an Indian. It feels as if that one thing becomes all of you, even though that’s not how you feel. For me, it feels incomplete to say that I am from India because so much of the person that I became, that I am right now, also came from living in the United States and France. So, it feels incomplete to say I am from India, when as part of the diaspora, my identity became much more complex and inter sectional than that.Fitting Into Indian SpaceI also know that I don’t fit into the Indian space as much. My experiences are very different from my friends back home. They will talk about things that I cannot necessarily relate to, while they can all relate to each other. I will be the only one among them with a story they wouldn’t be able to relate to. It doesn’t feel nice to go back to that space where people are having to adjust to the kind of person I am in my circles. Where they are not being able to or not fully accepting of it either. It is not comfortable for me to feel like I am on the outside constantly.So, I don’t feel like I am just from India. India is a part of me, but there are other parts of me that are equally important to me in my life.Living in JapanOf all the places I have lived in, Tokyo has been the cleanest and safest.  The public bathrooms are not gross–you can go in if you had a night out drinking beer and not just wait to go home. I can be walking home at 4 or 5 am. If I am stepping out in the night, I am not as conscious of my safety as I would normally be. Even when it comes to public transport, I don’t have to clutch my bag close to me so no one tries to snatch it–something I would do if I was in the Delhi metro. People in Tokyo don’t really care about what you are doing, so it gives me the kind of space to experiment, grow as a person, live independently and be responsible for my decisions.I appreciate the timeliness here. For example, when I had a doctor’s appointment in Delhi for 9 pm, the doctor saw me at 11 pm. In the United States, you show up on time. In Japan, if you have an appointment at say, 10.30 am, they will be there by 10.15 am.Parks are a part of everybody’s life here. It is not just to lend beauty to a city, people spend time there and many art events that are held in these parks. It is not weird to say, “Hey let’s go to the park and have breakfast!”. Parks here are extremely beautiful!Although, it gets difficult to be here when you want to find a lipstick that isn’t obnoxiously bright on your skin. With Asian obsession with fairness, and people in general being pale in Japan, finding cosmetics to suit your skin is difficult and not part of their product line up.How Being ‘Asian’ is PerceivedFor people in the United States, Asians mostly mean the Japanese, Korean and Chinese. I have had people in America come up to me and insist that I was not Asian, but Indian. My response would be to point out  where India lies on the map of Asia.However, it is interesting to see what constitutes “Asian” all across the world, right now. In Japan, Asian would be Thai food, Indian food, Vietnamese food.Missing Out Born and raised in the National Capital Region in New Delhi, I miss the being able to walk out and being able to get something to eat. When I moved to America, that was the most difficult part. In India, you don’t see unending aisles of frozen food—which you will see in the United States, because they don’t seem to have a cooking culture. There are fast food restaurants everywhere but not as much street food–especially in California–which was weird for me.I used to miss festivals a lot when I first moved, but since I have been living abroad for a while, I have gotten used to it. What I do miss is watching my sisters and cousins grow up, family weddings, friends’ weddings. You are constantly missing out on something. It is a price you have to pay. Related ItemsJapanlast_img read more

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first_imgAbu Dhabi-based billionaire MA Yusuff Ali is set to acquire British bottled water brand Harrogate Spring Water, the Times of India reported.Yusuff Ali, the owner of LuLu Group, confirmed to the publication that he does plan to acquire “a British spring water brand,” but did not disclose the name of the company. “The deal will be finalized in two or three months’ time,” Ali was quoted as saying in the report.“The deal to acquire Harrogate Spring Water is in the final stage and it is expected to be completed during the first half of the current calendar year itself,” the report quoted a source as saying. Harrogate Spring Water was being retailed at LuLu supermarket chain.Harrogate Water Brands, one of Britain’s oldest bottled water brand, owns and manages the Harrogate Spring Water and Thirsty Planet brands. Harrogate Spring Water Limited, with total assets worth £15 million until March 2017, is based in the original British spa town of Harrogate.It is the official water brand for the Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018 to be held in London in July. It also has a three-year agreement with England and Great Britain Hockey.Harrogate Spring Water in 2014 invested £8 million in production facilities, and expanded its bottling plant off Harlow Moor Road in 2017, according to the BusinessDesk.com.Yusuff Ali was at the top position among the UAE-based expat billionaires, ahead of Landmark Group chief Micky Jagtiani, according to Forbes’ annual list of billionaires released on March 6, 2018. Ali’s wealth totaled $5.5 billion according to Forbes, putting him at No. 388 on the list.Yusuff Ali , who has been called the Middle East retail king by the magazine, heads over the $7.4 billion LuLu Group, that has 132 stores in the Gulf region.Yusuff Ali is also investing in real estate projects in the United Kingdom. “We are investing £300 million in various projects that include ‘Great Scotland Yard’, the old headquarters of the Scotland Yard, The Waldorf Astoria-Edinburgh, and a food processing plant in Birmingham,” he was quoted as saying in the report. The hotel will be opened at the end of 2018, he added. The original Scotland Yard headquarters is being given a makeover and transformed into a luxury hotel, Forbes reported. The custom-built 92,000 sq ft hotel will be called the Great Scotland Yard Hotel.The group acquired the Scottish hotel, the Caledonian, a former Victorian railway hotel, overlooking the Edinburgh Castle, for £85 million earlier this year. Related ItemsLuLu GroupMA Yusuff AliUAElast_img read more

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first_imgWhen documentary-maker Sam Rega got the chance to make a film on Indian American students who have over the years dominated the winners’ list of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, he was completely hooked to the concept. The New York-based filmmaker was intrigued about why more people were not talking about the subject.The idea was indeed compelling — 18 out of the 22 winners of the Spelling Bee, one of United States’ most iconic competitions, have been of Indian-American descent since 1999.The quest to get to the bottom of this made Rega meet the United States-based Indian-origin families and children who are invested in the idea of wining the prestigious competition. It made the American filmmaker see many sides to the competition and finally make the documentary — Breaking the Bee— that explored their journeys.Sam Rega, the director of Breaking the Bee“I was working at Business Insider and my colleague, Chris Weller, a writer and the producer of the documentary, approached me with an intriguing idea. He has followed the Scripps National Spelling Bee for years and noticed a greater number of Indian-American participants and winners,” Rega tells Little India.The film was first conceived in the fall of 2015. “As we entered production, and the 2016 election came and went, we quickly realized that our film resonated more with the debate around immigration and Americanness growing,” he recalls. “We have a poignant scene where we discuss the racist backlash these children receive on social media,” Rega adds. He feels that the film is a harbinger of the message that these are children after all, and should be, treated as children.The documentary is set to be screened at the New York Indian Film Festival in Manhattan on May 12.Breaking the Bee explores and lays out multiple facets of the competition — the families of students, the young participants, and the circumstances and challenges faced by them. “After months of research, attending spelling bees and speaking to families, we realized this was more than a coincidence,” the 32-year-old filmmaker says. “It was a perfect storm of events. We had our film. I was intrigued that this was a story that people hadn’t heard of, yet it was happening right before our eyes.”For winners of the competition, happiness and victory is only one aspect of the competition. A relatively unknown aspect of their lives is the pressure and challenges that these young competitors brave. More often than not, it means that the child gets to watch less movies or miss a birthday party occasionally. “It’s the same with any endeavor a child pursues, whether baseball, piano, or spelling. If you want to reach the top, you have to put in the work and make sacrifices,” adds Rega, who has been working on documentaries for the last decade.On a lighter note, he says that shooting with the Indian American families gave him a glimpse of the Indian hospitality and culture. As the cameras started rolling, he not only got a better understanding of the entire process of making the young guns spelling champions, but also became a part of it. “When the cameras stopped rolling, we were invited to stay and eat home-cooked meals. After multiple shoot days over the course of several months, we felt like family,” Rega reminisces.Participating in the spelling contests is often a family affair. The child is the motivation, and the parents take on the role of a coach. “Even the siblings help. Studying varies from family to family and someone will pretend they are on stage and spell words while others will draw pictures to help illustrate root words,” he says.Rega has not only featured champions who have toiled day in and out to bring the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy home, but also those who did not make the cut. At the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2017, after a speller missed a word in one of the final rounds, Rega spoke with the father and expressed sympathies over the elimination of son, who was appearing in the contest in his final year of eligibility. The father, while pointing to his son who was running around with his friends, told him how the competition is so much more than just spellings; it’s about the journey.“Sure, spellers will feel bad, but they bounce back quickly. Remember, they are just kids. For so many of them, it’s the excitement to be at an event and hang out with their friends,” says Rega, adding that the competition goes far beyond the dictionary.For now, the director is looking forward to his summer wedding and starting a new life. Rega, whose first movie, Miami Noir: The Arthur E. Teele Story, explored the events that led to the public suicide of Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele, is also exploring several new ideas in the true crime genre as well as the competitive sports world for his next project.He has so far worked on various themes in his films, including following a team of professional video game players in their quest for world championship in his 2016 documentary titled League of Millions. He also edited the New York City nightclub documentary Limelight, the Netflix hit Dawg Fight that explores the underground boxing scene in Miami, as well the VH1 mini-series The Tanning of America exploring how hip-hop changed the country.Breaking the Bee is perhaps only the beginning of Rega’s fascination with India. He hopes to travel to the country in the near future. “I would absolutely love to make a film in India,” he says. “I know there are so many incredible stories to tell and voices to be heard. If anyone has an idea or story, email me.” Related ItemsIndian Americanspelling beelast_img read more

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first_imgAmerican Navy veteran Adam Purinton who killed Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas City in 2017 was sentenced to life in prison on May 4. He  had pleaded guilty to the charges of murdering Kuchibhotla at a bar in Olathe on Feb. 22, 2017.Purinton, 52, was sentenced by Johnson County, Kan. District Court Judge James Charles Droege to nearly 78 years in prison as part of a plea agreement reached in March. He will not be eligible for parole until after he turns 100.He was charged with first-degree murder of Kuchibhotla, 32, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting his friend, Alok Madasani, and an American bystander, Ian Grillot. Both Madasani and Grillot, who chased Purinton after he fled Austin’s Bar and Grill, were injured in the attack.Purinton had yelled, “Get out of my country,” before shooting Kuchibhotla, who later died from injuries sustained in the attack.Purinton also received 165 months imprisonment for each of the other two attempt-to-murder charges.Kuchibhotla’s wife Sunayana Dumala expressed satisfaction at the court’s decision.“Today’s sentencing in the murder of my husband will not bring back my Srinu, but it sends a strong message that hate is never acceptable,” Dumala said in a statement. “I want to thank the District Attorney’s office and the Olathe police for their efforts to bring this man to justice,” she said.“Imagine how much more he could have achieved and contributed to the community if not for your anger and hatred,” she added. “I hope in the years that you must spend in the jail you will one day realize the magnitude of your mistake,” she said.Purinton was arrested on Feb. 23 at another restaurant, where he had allegedly boasted of killing Middle Easterners, according to the Kansas City Star. He is also facing federal hate crime and firearms charges, which could result in death penalty. Purinton has pleaded not guilty in the federal case.Kuchibhotla, who was from Hyderabad, moved to the United States to study engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. Later, he bought a house, got married and planned to start a family, his wife had said.The hate crime had garnered a lot of attention from the media and the Indian American community. Protests were staged in Kansas and in other states in a show of solidarity.Dumala, who has become a voice against hate crime in the United States after losing her husband, was also invited to attend US President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on Jan.30. Related Itemshate crimeKansasSrinivas Kuchibhotlalast_img read more

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first_imgRecovering from the debacle of his India trip and resulting controversies surrounding the visit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted to skip the annual Khalsa Day Parade in Toronto on April 29, the Hindustan Times reported. His appearance at the event last year invited disapproval from the Indian government.The parade, which sees Sikhs sporting Khalistan flags and chanting Sikh independence slogans, was, however, attended by top Canadian leaders, who also participated in Surrey’s Baisakhi celebration in British Columbia last week. Among the politicians who attended both the events was New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who has faced heat for being associated with Sikh separatist events in the past. He said in Toronto that human rights violations in India were similar to those in Syria and those against the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Hindustan Times reported. While Singh’s presence at the Surrey event went unannounced and unmarked on social media, he was in the limelight in Toronto.Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne also addressed the gathering, where banners for a 2020 referendum for a separate Sikh homeland, and Khalistan flags were seen flying. The posters at Khalsa Day Parade featured Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the founder of Khalistan movement. Floats in memory of assassins of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi were also seen at the event, the report added. Cabinet minister Navdeep Bains was also present at the parade, along with a host of other Canadian MPs and political leaders.Trudeau, who was scheduled to be in Toronto for the #TorontoStrong vigil held in memory of victims in a van rampage, bypassed the nagar kirtan — a neighborhood recital of hymns — held at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto. An Indian official called Trudeau’s move as “some improvement,” even as the attendance of other leaders at the events seemed like “business as usual,” the report added.The referendum posters and floats honoring Indira Gandhi’s assassins were also seen at Baisakhi celebration in Surrey last week, which was attended by British Columbia’s premier John Horgan, and several provincial legislators, according to local Surrey publications.The Surrey event was organized by Dashmesh Durbar gurdwara, where Talwinder Singh Parmar, the accused of the bombing of Air India flight 182 in 1985, is memorialized.Saying that politicians in Canada respect “freedom for expression” of Canadian Sikhs, Gurpatwant Pannun, legal adviser for Sikhs For Justice, the organization that was present at Khalsa Day Parade and is at the forefront of the 2020 referendum demand, told the Hindustan Times: “It’s not India’s place to direct Canadian political leaders where they can go.”The Khalsa Day Parade was also held at other places around the world, including Birmingham in the United Kingdom. New Jersey’s Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla attended the event at Manhattan. Victoria in Australia saw a parade for the first time in 100 years, Times Colonist reported. These parades generally include men, women and children dressed in traditional clothes, live music, a display of Sikh martial arts, decorated floats and culinary specialties. Related ItemsCanadaJustin TrudeauSikhismlast_img read more

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first_imgThe takeover of Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post newspaper by Malaysian Indian businessman Sivakumar S Ganapathy, which has been mired in controversy, witnessed new mayhem after several employees resigned following the removal of editor-in-chief, Kay Kimsong, on May 6.The controversy began after the Phnom Penh Post published an article exposing alleged links between Ganapathy, who is the managing director of Kuala Lumpur-based public relations firm ASIA Public Relations Consultants Sdn Bhd, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.Kimsong was fired on May 6, the day the article was published, and after he reportedly refused to take down the “damaging” story. After Kimsong’s eviction, five other senior staff members resigned. The authors of the story, Indian-origin reporter Ananth Baliga and Brendan O’Byrne, were among those who quit. According to the South China Morning Post, discussions on further walkouts “are ongoing.”Over 20 current and former staff members signed a statement, expressing their “disgust” after “representatives of the new owners” reached the office and “ordered” staff to remove the article from the newspaper’s website, Al Jazeera reported.Ganapathy’s company website lists “Cambodia and Hun Sen’s entry into the Government seat” as a former “project.” In the story, it was said that Ganapathy has links with the Malaysian government as well, and that he had written a biography, titled Taib – the Visionary, of Sarawak state’s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, according to SCMP.After being ordered to remove my story regarding the sale of the Phnom Penh Post from the website by new management, I refused and offered my resignation, which was accepted. I wish the fantastic journalists at The Post all the best.— Brendan O’Byrne (@BrendanOByrne) May 7, 2018Kudos to my colleagues @phnompenhpost for soldiering on despite all the distractions y’day. Like always, they produced a strong piece on the firing of Kay Kimsong and resignations of senior staff. They added context and expert opinions but this was culled by the new editor. pic.twitter.com/EKNVdNb9yS— Ananth Baliga (@antbaliga) May 8, 2018“A lot of us are heartbroken today,” reporter Erin Handley quoted as saying by SCMP. “Our new owners decided that our news story that pointed out questionable links between then and the Cambodian and Malaysian governments was damaging to their reputation … [and said] ‘we want it taken down’.”Ganapathy took over the newspaper, which is touted as the last independent newspaper in the country, from former Australian owner Bill Clough. The sale of the newspaper was confirmed by Clough on May 5, who blamed the sale on falling advertising revenues. He told the BBC that Ganapathy is a “well respected newspaper man” and that the outstanding tax bill was cleared as part of the deal.Ganapathy said he would uphold the Post’s legacy and editorial independence.The sale of the newspaper invited outcry from rights groups. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters that the deal was a “disaster for media freedom.”This is not the first newspaper in Cambodia to see alleged government interference in the last year. The government also forced the shutdown of The Cambodia Daily and dissolved the main Opposition party in a wide-ranging crackdown in 2017.Cambodia slipped 10 places in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, to rank at No. 142 in a list of 180 countries, raising concerns about freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression in the country. Related ItemscambodiaMalaysiaMedialast_img read more

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first_imgTechnology professionals from India took up 74.2 per cent of the total number of H-1B visas issued by the United States in 2016, which increased to 75.6 per cent in 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in its latest report.China came second in terms of the number of H-1B visas received, with 9.3 and 9.4 per cent, respectively, for 2016 and 2017, according to the report, released on May 7. There was a drop of 4.1 per cent in the number of new H-1B beneficiaries from India approved for initial employment in the fiscal year of 2017. However, the number of beneficiaries approved for continuing employment increased by 12.5 per cent in the same year.The report, titled “Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers,” was sent to U.S. lawmakers on April 10. It showed that 70,737 Indians received initial H-1B visas in 2016, and the number dropped to 67,815 last year. A total of 185,489 visas for continuing employment were issued to Indians in 2016, which increased to 208,608 in 2017. In total, 256,226 Indians received H-1B visas in fiscal year 2016 while the corresponding figure was 276,423 in 2017.According to USCIS, the total number of H-1B petitions increased by 1.24 per cent in the period, from 398,718 in 2016 to 403,675 in 2017. The number of H-1B petitions approved jumped about 5.9 per cent, from 345,262 in 2016 to 365,682 in 2017. The median salary of beneficiaries of approved petitions increased from $82,000 in 2016 to $85,000 in 2017.The number of H-1B petitions approved for workers aged between 25 and 34 years constituted 66.2 per cent of the total approvals in 2017 while the number of H-1B petitions for workers with a bachelor degree was 45.2 per cent that year. About 44.5 per cent of approved petitions were for workers with a master’s degree, while 6.8 per cent went to those with a doctorate, 3.3 per cent went to workers with a professional degree, and 69.8 per cent were received by those in computer-related occupations in 2017 fiscal, the report said.The number of H-1B petitions approved for workers in computer-related occupations increased by 6.6 per cent, from 237,837 in 2016 to 254,592 in 2017. As per the USCIS, the number of H-1B petitions for all other occupation groups increased by 3.4 per cent, from 106,418 in fiscal year 2016 to 110,009 in 2017.The H-1B petition for initial employment is filed by the employer, and only some of them are applicable under the annual cap. The ones exempt from annual cap include petitions submitted by non-profit research organizations or government research organizations.The employment petitions are usually extensions, sequential employment or concurrent employment, which are filed for foreigners already staying and working in the United States. The extensions are filed for H-1B workers who want to work beyond the initial three-year period up to a total of six years. Six years is the maximum period permissible under law. Related ItemsH-1B visaUnited StatesUSCISlast_img read more

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first_imgThe Indian Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is reportedly unhappy with the Union Law Ministry for rejecting its proposals to take actions against NRI grooms who have allegedly abandoned their wives.The WCD ministry had made a draft proposal to bring in measures to protect women who were abandoned by NRI husbands soon after the wedding but the law ministry has questioned the legality of using a website to deliver summons to the men, according to the New Indian Express.The draft on harsher punishments for NRI wife deserters, which included several changes in the CrPC Act, was prepared after discussions with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), a senior WCD ministry official told the publication.“One of the suggestions was that since the wife deserters do not receive summons, the summons should be uploaded on a special website and if they fail to respond to it despite three notices—they will be considered as absconders,” the official said. “However, the law ministry had questioned the legality of the clause.”According to the draft, Indians who go abroad after marriage will be required to register on a specially created website so that in case of any marital disputes in the future, the website would be used to serve a notice to the man.Currently, notices are sent to NRI husbands through newspapers if they don’t respond to the summons, but it is probable that nobody reads the newspaper notices either, an official said, according to the report. He added that the Delhi High Court recently ruled that summons delivered through the messaging app WhatsApp will be considered legal if there are two double ticks.With the court accepting WhatsApp-delivered summons as legal, “there is no reason why the law ministry should reject our proposal on the issue of validity,” another official said, the report added.The WCD ministry also proposed impounding/cancelling the passport of the groom and attachment of their property in India but these too have been rejected, along with the rejection to the website. The WCD ministry is still going to pursue the matter with the law ministry, the report said.There is no official data about the number of women abandoned by NRI husbands but some NGOs have indicated that there may be almost 50,000 such women, mostly in Punjab and Gujarat.According to complaints received by the MEA between Jan. 1, 2015 and Nov. 30, 2017, an abandoned or tortured NRI woman calls the ministry every eight hours to seek help. Related ItemsfamilyMarriagewomen’s rightslast_img read more

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